As the Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY) works to dismantle structural racism, particularly in the youth justice system, we were drawn to the discussions conducted at this year’s U.S. Social Forum (USSF). Communities of color across the nation are continue to grapple with growing economic disparities between the elite and working class, with a unique and disproportionate impact on communities of color. So, our staff hopped into our cars and headed to the USSF in San Jose from June 24– 28th to engage in important strategy conversations around inequity, migration issues, and a vision for the future of the Bay Area.
The forums bring together organizers, educators, political supporters, activists, and community members to discuss solutions for barriers to social, economic, and political opportunities in their communities. It also provided a space for participants to build community, tap into new networks, and engage in transformative healing practices with one another.
The USSF first began in Atlanta in 2007 and was held again in Detroit in 2010 before choosing San Jose as its location for 2015. San Jose was considered a critical site for the USSF due to the massive development projects that have spurred rapid gentrification in the region since the “dot.com boom.”
Some of the 2015 USSF goals were to:
- Create space for social movement analysis, popular and political education, convergence, and strategic discussion;
- Strengthen local capacity to improve social conditions and social struggle;
- Build stronger relationships, collaboration, and social movements across various fronts for greater political understanding, strategic direction, and a powerful political force; and
- Deepen our collaboration with global social movements and our practice of international solidarity and joint struggle.
The USSF’s focus on social and economic inequities that disproportionately and overwhelmingly affect communities of color was a central issue that strongly resonates with CJNY.
Rather than making direct calls to action, the USSF emphasized the need to continue building movements and solidarity with other organizing bodies. This is, in fact, a core organizing principle that guides CJNY’s work. The Forum also underscored the importance of being aware of what’s taking place in one’s community, communicating and listening with others in social justice work, and bringing forth human rights values.
Please make sure to sign our mailing list to learn more about CJNY and get involved in similar conversations about how to create structural change in your communities to benefit the lives of youth of color and their families.